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Beth Stelling | © Katherine Leon
Beth Stelling | © Katherine Leon
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10 Women Comedians Who Smash The Patriarchy

Picture of Steven Ray Morris
Updated: 17 October 2016
Whether through their stand-up acts, the shows they produce, or the podcasts they host, these women comics speak truth to power with their humor on the daily. Let these comics inspire you to laugh, learn, and take action.

Cameron Esposito

Comedian Cameron Esposito already has a classic stand-up album, Same Sex Symbol, under her belt, but in the video below, she advocates for Planned Parenthood, shedding light on the uses of this important institution, dispelling myths and taking down the haters and the dangers of ignorant thought. Esposito’s take should be required viewing in schools. Another essential Esposito bit is her rumination on periods that she did on season two of The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail that required the entire audience to eat jelly donuts while she told it. You must see it to believe it!

The Jackie And Laurie Show (Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin)

Comedians Jackie Kashian (The Dork Forest) and Laurie Kilmartin (Conan) have a new podcast that needs to be added to the front of your queue. These two women have been in the biz for 20 years, and they talk about all aspects of stand-up, from crafting their jokes to sexist dudes and venues. They provide much needed perspective on the industry. The Jackie And Laurie Show is honest, illuminating, and very funny.

Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin| © The Jackie And Laurie Show
Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin | © The Jackie And Laurie Show

Sasheer Zamata

Seeing Saturday Night Live cast member Sasheer Zamata perform stand-up is a transcendent experience. The entire room just gets lost in the world she constructs with her jokes on dealing with racist radio ads, a ‘date’ with a creepy catcaller, and more. In the short below, ‘Sasheer Zamata Says Women’s Rights Still a BFD’, she so succinctly and perfectly sums up many issues surrounding race and gender in America right now. She’s the best.

Beth Stelling

Last year, comedian Beth Stelling released her sophomore comedy album, Simply The Beth, the same weekend as her Comedy Central half-hour debuted on television. With a wry smile hiding behind every dry joke, her stand-up is infectious. So it surprised many people when she came out about the abuse of an ex on Instagram in December. She’s a positive force for mobilizing change and awareness in the entire comedy community for the better. Beth Stelling for president.

Riley Silverman

Comedian Riley Silverman’s debut album, Intimate Apparel, is a must-listen. She was ModCloth’s first transgender model in 2015 and can be seen everywhere around town delivering keen impassioned takes on anything and everything. Recently, she dealt with the TSA and their regressive gender politics and took to The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail stage to talk about #TravelingWhileTrans. It’s a sincere, funny, and electric look at a real problem that needs addressing.

Jen Kirkman

Jen Kirkman is the comedy crusader. Last year’s Netflix special, I’m Gonna Die Alone, is brilliant. She’s got a second book, I Know What I’m Doing & Other Lies I Tell Myself, on the way. Lately, it’s been her mission to call out the deluge of sexist dudes who tweet at her on Twitter and other social media platforms. Watch in awe as she destroys each one. It’s eye-opening to see the relentless bile that women get from men on the internet (and in real life). Kirkman is riding out to meet her enemies in battle and winning.

Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson is a very hilarious comic out of NY, creator of the great site Blaria (Black Daria), and Broad City consultant. In her appearance on Late Night With Seth Myer, she provided a deft look about the pros and cons of interracial dating, why her daughter would be a notable astronaut, fact checking Mad Men and more. Her ‘Activist Bae’ sketch that recently premiered on Funny Or Die is a must-see.

Lady To Lady Podcast (Brandie Posey, Barbara Gray and Tess Barker)

If you haven’t gotten into the Lady To Lady podcast, you better get on it now. Comedians Brandie Posey, Barbara Gray, and Tess Barker are all hilarious and wonderful comedians in their own right, and on Lady To Lady, they combine forces to talk any and all things on their minds with some of amazing lady guests like comedian Margaret Cho, author Susan Orlean, animation producer Shadi Petosky, and more. It’s no secret that Lady To Lady is one of the raddest podcasts out there. You better start listening.

Tess Barker, Barbara Gray, and Brandie Posey | © Lady To Lady
Tess Barker, Barbara Gray, and Brandie Posey | © Lady To Lady

Emily Heller

Comedian Emily Heller recently released Good For Her, her crackling debut stand-up on Kill Rock Stars. She also has an amazing podcast called Baby Geniuses with artist Lisa Hanawalt (BoJack Horseman). She’s got sarcastic pragmatism about her stand-up that is unlike anything else. In this bit on Late Night With Seth Myer, she talks about what a feminist t-shirt would look like, the discourse around hot women, and more. She’s so freakin’ awesome.

Andy Erikson

Recent Last Comic Standing finalist, Andy Erikson is a bright-eyed socially conscious comedian who loves stuffed animals and unicorns. Her debut record, Secret Unicorn, is achingly funny from beginning to end. In this clip from The Meltdown, Erikson is unabashedly oddball and irreverently punny, congratulating Slinkies, reinterpreting the Bible, delivering a killer valley girl impression, and flipping the script on a hetero-normative custom.